In the dynamic landscape of video games, the year 2023 unfolded as a treasure trove of experiences, marked by the revival of cherished franchises, the advent of sequels, and the arrival of long-awaited remakes. Join us on an exploration of the standout titles that not only met but exceeded the expectations of gamers worldwide.
- Alan Wake II: A Campy Horror Delight
Remedy Entertainment’s much-anticipated sequel, Alan Wake II, emerges as a fantastic amalgamation of horror, a touch of detective work, and a generous dose of campiness. Immerse yourself in the narrative as the titular hero, Alan Wake, makes a triumphant return after a prolonged stint in an alternate dimension. Freshly escaped, he engages in a supernatural battle alongside a new protagonist, FBI agent Saga Anderson. The interwoven stories of the two protagonists unfold in a small town plagued by ritualistic murders, offering players a multifaceted gaming experience.
- Baldur’s Gate 3: A D&D Masterpiece
Larian Studios’ Baldur’s Gate 3 emerges as a beacon in the realm of role-playing games (RPGs), drawing inspiration from the rich tapestry of Dungeons & Dragons (D&D). It not only pays homage to the RPG design cherished by gaming enthusiasts but also presents a fresh argument for the approach to RPGs. The game’s expansive choice and customization options, boasting a dozen classes and over two dozen sub-races, provide players with a vast playground for exploration. Beyond its gripping combat mechanics that evoke a sense of mastery, it is the narrative intricacies and lovable characters, including Astarion and Shadowheart, that elevate Baldur’s Gate 3 to a realm of its own.
Price: Priced at $70 on PlayStation and $60 on PC, the game beckons players into a world where their choices shape the unfolding saga.
- Dave the Diver: Quirky Simplicity
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC/Mac. Dave the Diver beckons players into a world that defies expectations. What may appear as a simple game with two broad sets of mechanics—diving and collecting, followed by serving in a sushi restaurant—unveils surprising layers of complexity and depth. This seemingly straightforward game becomes an unexpected gem, offering the perfect balance for those moments when you have only a few minutes to dive, serve sushi, or delve into additional quests and missions. Beyond its gameplay, Dave the Diver showcases that realism and “historical accuracy” can gracefully yield to humor, fun, and a refusal to take oneself too seriously.
Price: An affordable $20 on Switch and $20 on PC/Mac makes Dave the Diver an accessible joyride into quirky simplicity.
- Diablo IV: Devilish Satisfaction
The legendary Diablo series makes a triumphant return with Diablo IV, delivering a concoction of addictive combat and gratifying destruction. While the series has been known for its class-driven combat, hellish narratives, sidequests, and loot, Diablo IV introduces a spark that sets it apart. The game’s combat mechanics, occasionally grotesque yet undeniably fun, make it a challenge to disengage from. As succinctly expressed in our review, “Lilith, also known as the Daughter of Hatred, has a simple pitch for the residents of Diablo’s world of Sanctuary: Violence is fun. You should try it.” Perhaps, she is onto something profound.
Price: Priced uniformly at $70 on PlayStation, $70 on PC, and $70 on Xbox, Diablo IV invites players into a devilishly satisfying journey.
- Final Fantasy XVI: A WWE-Inspired Surprise
Final Fantasy XVI, while facing branding expectations, surprises players with its unique blend of combat mechanics and larger-than-life boss fights. Departing from the anticipated Game of Thrones vibe promised by its creators, the game finds its strength in the dominants, a select group with the power to transform into devastating creatures called eikons. The protagonist, Clive, gradually assumes these dominants’ elemental powers, adding layers of strategy and a profound sense of empowerment. While the game’s story may not emerge as its strongest suit, the compelling boss fights, whether battling a dragon in space or navigating the rocky tendrils of a colossal, enraged rock entity, stand out as some of the most captivating moments of the gaming year.
Price: Priced at $70 on PlayStation, Final Fantasy XVI extends an invitation to gamers to explore its dynamic combat system and face colossal adversaries.
- The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Following the critically acclaimed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Tears of the Kingdom doesn’t merely tread the same path; it refines the Zelda experience. The game introduces innovative tools, Ultrahand and Fuse, empowering players to manifest their creative visions. The result? An expansive canvas where players go beyond conventional gameplay, creating flamethrowing structures, unique jails for adversaries, Gundams, and an array of imaginative creations. Beyond its visual allure, Tears of the Kingdom stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of the Zelda universe.
Price: Priced at $70 on Switch, Tears of the Kingdom beckons players back to Hyrule for a journey enriched with creative possibilities.
- Spider-Man 2: Swing Through the Marvel Universe
Insomniac Games continues its exploration of the Spider-Man saga with Spider-Man 2. This iteration picks up the narrative threads from Marvel’s Spider-Man and Spider-Man: Miles Morales, weaving a story around Peter Parker and Miles as they confront personal challenges and formidable foes like Venom and Kraven the Hunter. What sets Spider-Man 2 apart is the refreshing distinctiveness of both Peter and Miles, each offering a unique perspective and playstyle. Amidst the twisting narrative, the game transforms their world into a vibrant playground of skyscrapers, adding depth to the superhero gaming genre. The inclusion of dynamic NPC conversations further enriches the immersive experience.
Price: Priced at $70 on PlayStation 5, Spider-Man 2 invites players to swing through the Marvel Universe in an unparalleled superhero adventure.
- Super Mario RPG: A Nostalgic Joyride
One of Nintendo’s timeless classics, Super Mario RPG, remains a delightful and quirky adventure. Combining RPG elements with Nintendo’s signature charm, the game unfolds as an enchanting journey rooted in the ’90s. The premise is simple yet veers into wonderfully weird territories, featuring a giant talking sword, Mario’s quest to collect seven stars, and a captivating mix of mini-games. From hiding behind curtains to bouncing off barrels while dashing uphill, Super Mario RPG stands as a testament to the era’s humor and is reimagined as an unforgettable remaster.
Price: Priced at $60 on Switch, Super Mario RPG invites both new and seasoned players into a nostalgic joyride.
In the expansive tapestry of the gaming landscape in 2023, these titles emerged as beacons of creativity, offering diverse experiences that resonated with players across the globe. Whether immersing oneself in the spine-chilling horror of Alan Wake II, embarking on a role-playing odyssey in Baldur’s Gate 3, or swinging through the Marvel Universe in Spider-Man 2, each game carved its unique space in the hearts of gamers. As we celebrate these gaming marvels, the industry looks forward to what future adventures and innovations await.